National cohesion, division, and military behavior

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Ethnic identity is central to understanding divisions within militaries, the cohesion of units, and the behavior of soldiers. This chapter surveys existing research on practices of ethnic exclusion and inclusion in military forces. Autocrats often recruit coethnics to secure military loyalty and consolidate power - termed ethnic stacking - with pernicious impacts on social violence and governance. Conversely, security sector reform during democratization and post-conflict peace building often purposefully integrates previously marginalized groups—with the aim of forging more national and representative identities and institutions. Yet, there is no straightforward relationship between inclusion and military cohesion, which is vital to combat effectiveness. Whether diversity enhances or impedes cohesion may depend on how the military itself motives service. Where soldiers are inspired to sacrifice for a narrowly defined ethnonational community, integration will undercut cohesion. But where militaries motivate performance through professionalized task-based training, ethnic diversity and cohesion can coexist in harmony.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch handbook on civil-military relations
EditorsAurel Croissant, David Kuehn, David Pion-Berlin
Place of PublicationNorthampton
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781800889842
ISBN (Print)9781800889835
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2024

Publication series

NameElgar handbooks in political science


  • Coup-proofing
  • Ethnic stacking
  • Military behaviour
  • Military cohesion
  • Military integration
  • Security sector


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